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Communist Collective of the Chicano Nation

Report to the Communist Collective of the Chicano Nation on the Chicano National-Colonial Question

III. The Historical Evolution of the Chicano Nation

Like all nations, the Chicano Nation is the product of rising capitalism. Its formation as a nation began with the growth of the sheep industry, mining, and trade with Mexico and the United States. A Chicano bourgeoisie began to develop around the accumulation and sale of stock and minerals. The relationship of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is dialectical, thus as the Chicano bourgeoisie developed, it called into existence a Chicano proletariat. The first Chicano proletarians appeared as miners, teamsters and agricultural workers. Today the proletariat is the most numerous and important class in the Chicano Nation. Before a strategy for national liberation and socialist revolution can be discussed and worked out for the Chicano Nation, and before particular questions within it can be presented, it is necessary to understand not only its history, but its present situation. This is best done by showing that the Chicano Nation possesses the characteristics of a nation and by showing what particular forms these characteristics take.

A Historically Evolved, Stable Community of People

The Chicano people are ethnically distinct from their ancestors. In the veins of Chicanos flows the blood of Mexican Indians, New Mexican Indians, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Anglos, Negroes, etc. Historically the Chicanos differ from their forebears in that they have evolved in relation to the material conditions that exist in the territory that makes up the Chicano Nation and the events that have transpired in this territory, events which have shaped the Chicano physically, economically and culturally. Much of the development of the Chicano people has taken place under the rule of US imperialism and so consequently the normal development of the Nation has been twisted and deformed by economic exploitation, white chauvinism and the continual use of the raw power of the state against it.

The Chicanos are a stable community of people. They have occupied the same territory continuously since 1692 (the first settlements existed in 1598). By 1880 the Chicano Nation reached approximately its present territorial limits. The Chicano Nation is firmly rooted in place by a peasantry. The decrease in the rural population in the Chicano Nation is a normal result of the increased industrialization of the area and does not signify the loss of the peasantry. Nor does the immigration of Chicanos to Los Angeles, Denver, or Phoenix signify the disappearance of the Chicano Nation. This phenomenon is typical of the age of imperialism which tends to disperse peoples and break down national extension of the territory of the Chicano Nation. No one but a fool would suggest that, for example, the large immigration of Italians into the United States was an extension of the territory of Italy.

As indicated in Table 1, the Chicano population is growing. This growth is taking place also in those areas of Texas and Colorado which are part of the Chicano Nation. The decline in percentage of Chicanos between 1950 and 1960 was due to the massive immigration of Anglo-Americans into the Chicano Nation combined with an emmigration of Chicanos, mainly to Arizona and California, in search of work.

Recent figures indicate that throughout the Chicano Nation, the number of Chicanos is on the rise.

Growth of Spanish Surnamed or Spanish Language Population in New Mexico

Year.............................................1950............. 1960.............. 1970
Total Population ......................681,187.......... 951,023........ 1,015,998
Spanish Surnamed or
Spanish Language Population ..248,880........... 269,122 ........407,286
% of Total............................... 36.5% ..............28.2%............ 40.0%

Table 1 (The U.S. Census gives only figures recording the number of persons with Spanish Surname or of Spanish Language. This results in the impossibility of considering these figures as actually applying to the Chicano population which includes literally thousands of Chicanos with Anglo surnames. In addition, hundreds of Indians have Spanish surnames, there are a number of Latin Americans and there are Chicanas married to Anglos and vice versa, thus this set of figures must be considered as only a representation of the Chicano population.)

Community of Language

The common language of the Chicano Nation is Spanish. All nations do not have to speak a different language, but capitalism demands that each nation have a common language.

For many years the use of the Spanish language declined in the Chicano Nation because of the immigration of Anglo-Americans and the brutal efforts of the U.S. imperialists to stamp out the Spanish language. Many Chicano parents did not pass the Spanish language on to their children, but now this trend is reversing itself. Though at one time it seemed that the English language would replace Spanish as the common language of the Chicano Nation, this no longer appears likely.

Anglo-American occupation of the Chicano Nation has retarded the development of the Spanish language in this part of the Spanish speaking world, and instead a number of developments have taken place in the Spanish of the Chicano Nation which are particular to the Chicano Nation and the Southwest of the United States in general. Chicanos have adopted a number of English words and expressions into their language. This is a completely logical and normal phenomenon. It is enough to see the vast number of words and expressions which the Spaniards adopted from Arabic during the Middle Ages to see how generalized this phenomenon is. In addition, both Indians and Anglos have adopted Spanish words into their languages. This development is quite common in smaller towns with a small Anglo population. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear Anglos who do not speak Spanish, speak English with a Spanish accent.

Community of Territory

The Chicano Nation gravitates toward the areas first colonized by the Spaniards. As the nomadic and Pueblo Indians were drastically reduced in numbers, the Chicano Nation historically expanded outward from these originally colonized areas. Its essential territorial limits were reached by 1880. Significant expansion after that time was severely limited by the influx of Anglo-Americans settlers and the intensive offensive of the U.S. imperialists to drive Chicanos off their lands.

The present territory of the Chicano Nation is divided between three states. This division was purely arbitrary and was done in the attempt to divide the people of the Chicano Nation.

Economic Community

The common economy of the Chicano Nation began to develop well before the Colonialist War of 1846 and consisted of the production and export of livestock. Mining was a small but relatively important component of the economy. The maturation of U.S. imperialist beginning in 1880, meant that the economy of the Chicano Nation would be reforged to meet the needs of U.S. imperialism. The political and economic life of the Chicano Nation have indeed become completely subordinate to the interests of the U.S. imperialists.

Opportunists of all shades will certainly say that the Chicano Nation has no economic community because economically and politically it is so closely tied to U.S. imperialism. This thoroughly degenerate position leads to the conclusion that imperialism is able to destroy nations by knocking down the barriers between separate economies. It is clear that most of the nations of Latin America are almost as closely tied to U.S. imperialism economically as the Chicano Nation, yet they exist as separate nations.

The common economy is the product of rising capitalism and its existence is made visible by the existence of those economic classes associated with capitalism.

The main classes of the Chicano Nation are the comprador bourgeoisie, the national bourgeoisie, the peasantry (or semi-proletariat), and the proletariat.

The comprador bourgeoisie is well referred to within the Chicano Nation as vendidos for they have sold themselves and their people to U.S. imperialism. From the early days of the subjugation of the Chicano Nation to U.S. imperialism, the imperialists have ruled the Chicano Nation through these disgusting puppets such as Miguel Otero, Sen. Dennis Chavez, and Sen. Joseph Montoya. The comprador class is a direct appendage of U.S. imperialism and depends completely on the imperialists for its survival. It has its base in the governmental bureaucracy, the educational bureaucracy, Chicano capitalists and shopowners , the welfare and social bureaucracy, the clergy and the upper level of Chicano students.

The most important members of the comprador class occupy governmental positions and have served the imperialists well in oppressing not only the Chicano Nation, but other colonies and dependent nations throughout the world. Historically, U.S. imperialism first used the strategy of neo-colonialism in the Chicano Nation, that is, the turning over of governmental positions in the Chicano Nation over to Chicanos so that it appears that Chicanos are actually determining their own fate. This same strategy has been employed in Puerto Rico and is now being implemented in the Negro Nation.

The national bourgeoisie historically derives from those members of the Chicano bourgeoisie opposed to the Anglo-American invasion of 1846 and for the establishment of a Chicano Nation so that they could exploit their own people and control the home market. They were the small land owners, artisans, and merchants of Northern New Mexico. The fierce oppression of the Chicano Nation has not allowed the economic development of the national bourgeoisie so today this role belongs to the nationalist movements such as the Alianza, the Black Berets, El Grito del Norte, and the New Mexico and Colorado sections of El Partido de la Raza Unida. The national bourgeoisie is constantly vacillating between capitulation and opposition to U.S. imperialism. Above all, they hate imperialism but they are terrified of the toiling masses.

The Chicano bourgeoisie is based in small businesses such as bars, gas stations, franchises of all types, etc. Many Chicanos own construction companies and loan associations. A few also deal in real estate and a good number are large landholders and stockmen.

For a good many years the Chicano bourgeoisie has held the leadership of the Chicano people’s movement. The fights of LULAC, the G.I. Forum and MAPA for desegregation and concessions from the imperialists have predominated the struggle. The Chicano bourgeoisie is forced to raise some demands close to the hearts of the Chicano proletariat and toiling masses in order to rally them to the bourgeoisie’s side. However, this is merely a sham designed only to gain more privileges for the bourgeoisie and oppress and exploit the working class even more.

The militant actions of the Chicano peasantry in their demand for a solution of the agrarian question have inspired the entire Chicano nation. They have also placed the comprador class in crisis by toppling its hegemony and opening the way for the hegemony of the proletariat in the national liberation movement and the revolutionary alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry. The Chicano peasantry is located throughout the nation, but is mainly concentrated in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico and in the Mesilla Valley. For years the peasantry has formed the backbone as well as the anchor of the Chicano Nation. The major crops produced are apples, chile, pecans and cotton. Thousands of head of cattle are raised.

Since 1935 there has been a substantial reduction in the number of farms and ranches in the Chicano Nation. This reduction was brought about by the seizure of farms and ranches for nonpayment of taxes. This brought about a migration to the urban centers and provided the proletarians for the further exploitation of their nation. However, the size of the peasantry is not the important question – what matters is its existence, since it anchors a nation in place and in the final analysis determines the common territory.

The demand most dear to the peasantry is the re-distribution of land. This is the key aspect of the national-colonial question and can only be accomplished by means of the victory of socialist revolution in the Chicano Nation brought about by the revolutionary alliance of the proletariat and peasantry led by a vanguard Communist Party.

The proletariat of the Chicano Nation has grown rapidly in the past few years. The proletariat includes Anglo, Negro and Indian minority workers as well as Chicanos. As has been mentioned earlier, the workers in the service and clothing manufacturing industries have taken a leading role in recent years as witnessed by militant strikes in these industries. The proletariat has rejected or is in places in the process of rejecting the leadership of the Chicano bourgeoisie. A particularly strong indication of this is the almost complete rejection of El Partido de la Raza Unida by the working class in New Mexico, where the masses know from experience that there is almost no difference between having a Chicano or an Anglo as a US Senator.

What remains to be done at this time is to build a strong multi-national Communist Party in the United States and unite the proletariat of the Chicano Nation behind the red banner of Marxism-Leninism in order that it may go on to become the vanguard of the Chicano national liberation movement and assure a just solution of the Chicano national-colonial question and the victory of socialism in the Chicano Nation.

Community of Culture

The roots of the Chicano culture are ancient and varied. Its origins lie in the cultures of mesoamerica, in the old cultures of the Pueblo Indians and in those of Spain, which are mixtures of Moorish and European. The common psychological makeup of the Chicanos is expressed through their culture, which has developed under the persecution of US imperialism.

Chicano literature and folk tales also have a varied origin and many of the latter are distinctively native to the Chicano Nation, e.g., the legend of La Llorona, stories about the epic deeds of Elfego Baca and Vicente Silva, and many other stories of supernatural or historical events.

The food of the Chicano Nation is distinct from that of Mexico. One could compile an almost endless list including enchiladas, calavacitas, roast lamb, posole and menudo. Its music has been influenced by that of Mexico, Latin America and the United States. There are, however, a number of songs native to the Chicano Nation.

In conclusion, it must be said that like all things, the Chicano Nation had a beginning and will have an end. Like all things, it is subject to change. As Stalin pointed out, any one of the above characteristics does not in itself constitute a nation and should any one of them be lacking, a nation would cease to be a nation.